To get ahead as an introvert, act like an extravert. It's not as hard as you think
- Written by Andrew Spark, Postdoctoral research fellow, Queensland University of Technology
Leadership is a human universal. It can even be seen in other species, which suggests it may be an evolutionarily ancient process.
A common personality trait of “natural” leaders is a higher than average level of extraversion. Research consistently shows extraverts, compared with introverts, are more likely to be regarded as leaders by others, and more likely to obtain leadership roles.
We decided to run an experiment to see if we could turn the leadership tables around by getting introverts to act like extraverts. We also wanted to find out how acting like an extravert makes introverts feel about themselves.
Our results show that introverts who act like extraverts are indeed viewed by others as having more leadership potential. We also found no evidence of psychological costs for introverts.
What we know about extraversion and leadership
Before we get to the specifics of our research, let’s briefly recap the basic science of extraversion and leadership.
Extraversion is a continuum that measures the degree to which someone is enthusiastic, assertive and seeks out social interaction. It is typically included as part of the five-factor model of personality.
The other dimensions – or traits – in the five-factor model include openness (being intellectually curious and creative), conscientiousness (being orderly and industrious), agreeableness (being compassionate and polite), and neuroticism (being sensitive to experiencing negative emotions like anxiety, depression, and anger).Shutterstock
Extraversion has biological roots and is heritable. In others words, part of the reason we find differences in levels of extraversion between people is because there are genetic differences between people that partially determine our personality. Our genes even predict the likelihood we will occupy a leadership position.
We also know that extraverts have a more sensitive dopamine system in their brain. They are wired to find rewards more enticing. They crave social interaction and the attention that comes with it. This fact may partially explain why extraverts are more motivated to obtain leadership roles, given leadership is an inherently social process.
Read more: It's hard to find a humble CEO. Here's why
How we did our experiment
Our experiment consisted of 601 participants randomly divided into 166 leaderless groups of typically four people.
We asked these groups to complete a 20-minute joint problem-solving activity (prioritising items needed to survive on the Moon). Participants were not told the purpose of the experiment.
We then split the groups into three “experimental conditions”.
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- ^ Introverts think they won't like being leaders but they are capable (theconversation.com)
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- ^ not always (psycnet.apa.org)
Authors: Andrew Spark, Postdoctoral research fellow, Queensland University of Technology
Read more https://theconversation.com/to-get-ahead-as-an-introvert-act-like-an-extravert-its-not-as-hard-as-you-think-151028